Watford, Zeller will return to Indiana next season
Christian Watford and Cody Zeller helped Indiana's basketball program turn things around this past season. They have even bigger plans for next season. The two players said Tuesday they would return to school next season, putting off the NBA and making the Hoosiers one of the Big Ten favorites.
"Cody is a player who, along with his unique skill set, makes everyone around him better," Coach Tom Crean said in a statement issued by the athletic department. "He is going to have great opportunities ahead of him. ... He will have the opportunity to be as good as any player in college basketball."
Indiana could be as good as any team in the country, too.
With Zeller and Watford both in the lineup, the Hoosiers will return all five starters — including their top two scorers — from a team that reached the regional semifinals before losing 102-90 to eventual national champion Kentucky.
It was a remarkable comeback for Indiana, which hadn't even posted a winning record in Crean's first three seasons in Bloomington.
Watford's buzzer-beating shot to beat top-ranked Kentucky in December suddenly put the Hoosiers back on the national map. Before the season ended, Indiana had also upset No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan State — marking the first time in school history that the Hoosiers knocked off three top-five teams during the regular season.
■ Connecticut sophomore guard Jeremy Lamb announced Tuesday that he has declared for the NBA Draft. Lamb led the Huskies in scoring last season at 17.7 points per game, and was a key part of the team that won the NCAA championship in 2011.
WKU women's coach has spots to fill
Western Kentucky women's basketball coach Michelle Clark-Heard now has four scholarships and two assistant coaching vacancies to fill. Heard announced Tuesday that she will not retain Latrice McLin, Camryn Whitaker or Tim Riley as assistant coaches on her first staff at WKU. The three coaches have been helping Heard during her transition since replacing Mary Taylor Cowles on March 22. Heard will retain Curtis Turley as director of basketball operations.
"They did an unbelievable job when I got here," Clark-Heard said of McLin, Whitaker and Riley. "They were phenomenal in helping with the transition for me, but I think it was just a situation where I needed to get some people around me that I felt comfortable with and had known before for a previous amount of time."
Western Kentucky on Monday announced former Weber State assistant and Central graduate Margaret Richards as the first assistant on Heard's staff.
Clark-Heard also Tuesday confirmed that junior forward Mimi Hill asked for her release from the program before Cowles' termination. Hill played in 23 games and averaged 6.9 minutes for WKU last season, averaging 1.3 points and 1.1 rebounds.
■ Jim Ferry, who led Long Island University to consecutive appearances in the men's NCAA Tournament, is the new men's basketball coach at Duquesne. Ferry, 44, replaced Ron Everhart, who was fired last month after six seasons at the Atlantic-10 school.
■ The NCAA announced Tuesday that one of its most important executives, Greg Shaheen, would not return as the executive vice president for championships and alliances. Mark Lewis, the president of Jet Set Sports, a hospitality and event company, will replace him. For about a decade, Shaheen, 44, ran the NCAA's signature event and biggest money maker, the men's basketball tournament.
Faried's career night also a bit of revenge
Two days after one of the worst performances of his young career, rookie Kenneth Faried put together his best one yet — and both came against the same team. Faried, who starred at Morehead State, had season highs of 27 points and 17 rebounds, and the Denver Nuggets never trailed in their most lopsided win of the season, a 123-84 victory over the Golden State Warriors late Monday night.
He rebounded from a one-point, four-rebound showing in Denver's 112-97 loss at Golden State on Saturday in which his ragged defense also was factor in a 17-point, nine-rebound night by the Warriors' David Lee. Forty-eight hours later, Lee was limited to 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting with three rebounds, shut down largely by Faried.
"I had one (point) and four (rebounds) last game, and that's not my game at all," Faried said. "I'm a very energetic guy. I rebound the ball. I'm athletic and I can pretty much do things for this team to help them win. Last time I played them, I didn't do any of that, so tonight I just wanted to make it my mission to stop David Lee and help my team win."
Consider the mission accomplished.
"I thought it was probably his best defensive game against a really good player," Nuggets Coach George Karl said. "Forty-eight hours ago we were miserable. I had no idea a game could be that much different, but Kenneth had a tremendous game."
Rondo's assist streak reaches 18 games
The Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo posted double-digit assists for the 18th straight game, extending the NBA's longest such streak in 20 years with an 18-point, 15-assist effort in a 115-107 victory against the Miami Heat on Tuesday night. LeBron James finished with 36 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Miami, which got 20 from Dwyane Wade and 18 from Mario Chalmers.
Ping goes pink for Masters winner
That pink driver used by Bubba Watson is going to the market.
Two days after Watson won the Masters, Ping said it would sell 5,000 limited-edition G20 drivers with the pink shaft and head. The drivers sell for $430, and Ping said it would donate 5 percent to a fund-raising campaign called, "Bubba Long in Pink. Driven by Ping."
As part of the campaign, the Phoenix-based company donated $10,000, along with $300 for every drive Watson has hit this year. To date, the campaign has generated $61,600 for charity.
Watson, meanwhile, launched "Bubba & Friends Drive to a Million" in January with hopes of raising $1 million for charities this year.
"Even prior to his win at the Masters, golfers were requesting pink G20s," said John Solheim, chairman and CEO of Ping. "Through word of mouth, social media and phone calls, the interest was extremely high. We want to satisfy that demand while bringing even more visibility to Bubba's goal of raising $1 million."
Panthers give Smith 3-year extension
Wide receiver Steve Smith expects to finish his career where it began — just as he predicted 11 years ago. Smith, who turns 33 in May, signed a contract extension Tuesday that will likely keep him in Carolina at least through 2015 and likely for the remainder of his career. A source told The Associated Press that Smith will earn about $18 million in guaranteed money over the next three seasons.
The last word
The name of one of the most famous shots in Masters history makes no sense. Augusta National came across two newspaper clippings from 1935 when Gene Sarazen holed a 4-wood for his second shot on the par-5 15th. Both referred to the shot as a "double eagle." But if an eagle is two shots under par, a double eagle then would be four shots under par. It's known as an "albatross" everywhere but in the United States, no doubt because of Sarazen, yet Sarazen once referred to his shot as a "dodo," and so the mystery continues. Golfer Geoff Ogilvy said:
"I didn't know what a double eagle was until I came to the U.S. Maybe they couldn't think of a word for something better than an eagle, so they called it double eagle. But it's not really a double eagle, it's an eagle-and-a-half."